KULAI: A meeting with Mother Teresa 24 years ago changed V. Rajamanikam’s earlier plans to turn his newly-bought land from a commercial venture to a non-profit outfit.
Initially, Rajamanikam wanted to build an integrated business building on the 1.92ha land located in Jalan Indah Permai 9, Taman Saleng Indah, here.
“She really inspired me with her kind words and advice, as well as her commitment to the less fortunate,’’ he said when sharing his chance meeting with the late Mother Teresa in India.
Rajamanikam, who is Johor Baru Handicapped and Mentally Disabled Children Association founder and president, received 10 wheelchairs from Star Foundation.
He opened the first home in
1990 at Taman Melodies, near Johor Baru, after he was retrenched from his job. He was a driver for 18 years.
“We started with seven children, and now, our 64 caretakers are looking after more than 230 special needs children at our Saleng home,’’ he said.
In addition to the administration office, the Saleng home has four separate dormitories for male and female residents, a conference room, a kitchen, a sensory room and a library.
Rajamanikam said most of the children were abandoned by their parents when they were small, adding that the home accepted special needs children, regardless of race and religion.
“We’d like to thank Star Foundation for its generosity as these wheelchairs will help the children move around better,’’ he said.
The organisation also runs seven similar homes, providing shelter to more than 600 residents in Kluang, Johor; Melaka; Pahang; Selangor and Terengganu.
Star Media Group non-executive director Wong You Fong, who handed over the wheelchairs to the home, said the contribution was part of the foundation’s efforts to give back to society.
Wong, who was shown around the premises and mingled with some of the residents, accompanied by Johor bureau chief Nelson Benjamin, commended the organisation for its charitable work.
She said it was challenging to take care of residents who had various disabilities as they needed care around the clock.
“Star Foundation would continue to assist non-governmental organisations in terms of financial assistance to run their programmes and activities,’’ said Wong.
Those interested in donating to the organisation should call 07-598 9676/ 9672 or visit its website at www.handicapjb.org.my.